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Sun 15 Jan 2017 10:13 AM

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Saudi dairy giant Almarai reports increase in Q4 net profit

Almarai said earnings were hit by impairment of assets, changes in foreign exchange rates and higher funding costs during the quarter

Saudi dairy giant Almarai reports increase in Q4 net profit
Saudi Arabias Almarai, the Gulfs largest dairy company, reported a 1 percent increase in fourth-quarter net profit on Sunday

Saudi Arabia's Almarai, the Gulf's largest dairy company, reported a 1 percent increase in fourth-quarter net profit on Sunday, broadly in line with analysts' forecasts, and said cost controls would continue to be a priority.

Almarai said net profit totalled 488.5 million riyals ($130 million) in the three months to Dec. 31, up from 483.7 million riyals in the year-earlier period.

Six analysts polled by Reuters had forecast on average that Almarai would make a quarterly net profit of 519 million riyals.

Almarai said earnings were hit by a 12.4 million riyals impairment of assets, changes in foreign exchange rates and higher funding costs during the quarter.

Improving efficiency and cost control measures would remain a priority "given the changing economic environment and the increasing competitive conditions," Almarai said.

It reported quarterly sales of 3.61 billion riyals in the fourth quarter, up 0.7 percent from a year earlier.

Saudi retailers had to contend last year with government austerity measures imposed to curb a state budget deficit, including utility price increases and reduced financial allowances for public sector employees.

Almarai said on Dec. 6 that its board had recommended a cash dividend of 0.9 riyal per share for 2016, lower than the cash dividend of 1.15 riyals for 2015.

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